California to Hike Cell Phone Driving Fine

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper

The California legislature last week sent legislation to Governor Jerry Brown (D) designed to boost the number of citations issued for for driving while talking with a cell phone in hand. The measure also increases the maximum possible fine to $528.

The state Senate last Monday gave final approval to Senate Bill 28 by a vote of 23 to 13, and the Assembly had done the same in July by 51 to 21. The measure increases the current first offense fine for holding a cell phone behind the wheel from $208 to $328 and a second offense from $328 to $528 with one license point. Talking on a handheld cell phone while driving has been illegal since January 2009, but it has been a secondary offense. If Brown signs the bill into law, it would become a primary offense, meaning police could pull someone over for using a cell phone without needing to identify any other traffic violation.

State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), the bill’s sponsor, insists the existing ban has been successful and should be expanded. The Legislative Analysts Office believes the evidence is far from conclusive. In the two years before the initial cell phone ban took effect and in the two years after, the number of fatal and injury collisions involving a cell phone using driver stayed effectively the same at between .09 percent and .11 percent before and .10 after.

Because the bill would drive up insurance rates for ticket recipients, AAA Northern California, which sells insurance, backed the legislation. Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety spoke out against the bill.

“The reason for the insignificance of hands-free use versus hands-on use is attributed to the fact that the manner in which the cellphone is used is irrelevant, because it is the conversation itself that distracts drivers and contributes to collisions,” the taxpayer group explained in a statement. “Therefore, the approach taken by SB 28 and previously related anti-cellphone legislation appears to be based upon erroneous conclusions, and seeks to address a mere symptom — but not the cause — of behavior which leads to collisions and thereby adversely impacts our level of public safety.”

Bicyclists would also be fined $20 for riding while talking into a phone for the first time and $50 for the second.

A copy of the bill is available in a 130k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: Senate Bill 28 (California State Legislature, 8/16/2011)


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  • GS650G GS650G on Aug 22, 2011

    Considering the staggering debt they have in California maybe all fines should be hiked to 1000.00. They can discourage any bad behavior while feeding the massive debt monster. I don't live there so I don't care what they do.

  • Armadamaster Armadamaster on Aug 23, 2011

    I always love the 'knee jerk' reaction to BAN CELLPHONES they are a distraction to drivers! Well, better get to banning the AM/FM radio, putting on the makeup, eating, children, pets, passengers, the list goes on and on. Because if we are going to start bannning distractions, we'd better ban ALL of them. In fact, let's just ban people to one individual per wait, the environmentalists won't have that on their carbon footprint conscience, so let's just ban automobiles instead and we can all suffer in mass transit together, problem solved.

    • VanillaDude VanillaDude on Aug 23, 2011

      If cell phone driving ended due to a banning of automobiles, these governments would start fining us for walking and talking on cell phones. It isn't about distracted or safe driving. It is about bilking millions from law abiding citizens by passing laws making what they normally do, criminal. The law is the bigger crime here. We are seeing the continuing evolution of fashion policing. In a world where situational ethics decides, society is demanding the enforcement of laws that are not based on criminal acts. The police like it because they don't have to confront dangerous people and they can collect millions annually from harmless law abiding citizens. Fashion policing allows fashionable people to gain power to dictate how everyone behaves. Right now it is fashionable to feel guilty while driving anything larger than a moped or not propel oneself down a road in some kind of imported hybrid car. So speaking on a cell phone while driving would be considered unfashionable and downright rude to everyone else who expects the caller's attention. Speaking on a cell phone appears similar to a crazy person speaking to themselves. It is unbecoming and fashionable people don't like being ignored when they are in public driving in their fashionable imported hybrid cars. It isn't distracted driving that irritates these anti-cell phone people, it is the appearance of rudeness that drives them crazy.

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